SPRING HILL — Seven-year-old Eldalie Aristizabal was enjoying herself so much at last week's open house at Life Primary School, she wanted to stick around for a while.
"Ellie was in the classroom, and she didn't want to leave," said her mother, Cynthia Romero, who describes her daughter as a social butterfly. "I had to tell her the [staff] people needed to go home."
Life Primary School is a new ministry of Great Life Church that will educate students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Romero, who has been home-schooling Ellie and her younger sibling, is excited about her daughter starting second grade at the school next month.
"They're going to be teaching so many awesome things, like how to do a budget, nutrition, sewing and fashion design, and graphic artistry and piano," Romero said. "She's going to learn from some really amazing, talented people."
She also likes the teacher one-on-one time that will be available to her daughter, because the class sizes will be small.
"I also really like that they value our input, and something that I was really excited about is their little-to-zero homework policy," Romero said. "It's awesome for the parents that there is no stress in that. And as a parent, you want to be able to spend time with them when they get home."
Starting a school has been a long-time goal of church pastors Steve and Ellen Bilsborough, said principal Frank Zayas. Victoria Bilsborough is the administrator.
Zayas has taught for 28 years, including at Parrot Middle School, Moton Elementary and Hernando Christian Academy. He chose the Abeka curriculum for the school, which offers classes in phonics, math, history, social studies, geography, science and health, the Bible, language arts and English.
"The Abeka curriculum provides a strong foundation for students to develop excellent reading and writing skills, and engaging lessons that are faith-based," according to the school's website at lifeprimaryschool.com.
"With Abeka, you can count on high academics AND a Biblical world-view so your students aren't left half-prepared to make a difference in the world," says a quote on the website.
Electives will include language, speech, art, physical education and music.
Tuition ranges from $2,900 to $4,100, depending on the grade, plus an application fee, a technology fee and fees for before- and after-school care. Other expenses include books and uniform. Scholarships are available.
The school is on 6 ½ acres, allowing room to expand the five-classroom building. It is surrounded by fencing and will have surveillance cameras.
"I have five people from the Sheriff's Department who will stop in regularly and do a walk around," Zayas said.
Plans include adding a grade each year, and Zayas is interviewing teachers, with plans to hire one per grade level.
About 200 parents and prospective students from Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties attended the open house, he said.
"We have between 90 to 100 pre-enrolled students," Zayas said. "We have to do interviews with them, where we will let them know about our mission and answer their questions. Then if they feel, and we feel, like this is going to be a good fit, we ask if they want to enroll, and they pay the tuition."
For Romero, who attends Great Life Church with her husband and children, there is no question that the school is a good fit.
"As soon as they started talking about their goals, I was sold," she said.
Zayas hopes to make Life Primary the "best school in Hernando County," he said. "I want every single kid, when he or she goes home to say, 'Mom, I just can't wait to go there tomorrow.' "
For more information or to apply, visit lifeprimaryschool.com. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 488-8850. The school, at 6001 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill, will open Aug. 26.